Rúben Neves stole the headlines in Portugal on Friday by becoming the youngest player to score in a league match for FC Porto at 17 years and 155 days – eclipsing Dragons legend Fernando Gomes.
Gomes, now an international relations director at Porto, was 17 years and nine months old when he scored twice on his Porto debut in a 2-1 success against CU Fabril Barreiro on 8 September 1974. Almost 40 years later, defensive midfielder Rúben Neves has beaten the striker's record by four months, opening the deadlock after 11 minutes of the 2-0 home win against CS Marítimo on the opening day of the 2014/15 Portuguese Liga season. It was also Rúben Neves' competitive debut.
Team captain as Portugal impressed en route to the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals in May, Rúben Neves was picked out as one of ten U17 players to watch by UEFA.com reporters at the Malta finals.
Date of birth: 13/03/1997
Clubs: FC Porto
Joining Porto at the age of eight, Rúben Neves rose through the club's youth ranks before enjoying a loan spell at Padroense FC during the 2012/13 campaign. Last season, he played for Porto's U17 side and was an unused substitute in a pair of B team fixtures in April and May. The midfielder then shone as one of the brightest talents at the U17 European finals in Malta, featuring in all four of Portugal's matches.
With the defensive midfielder position vacant at Porto owing to Fernando's departure for Manchester City FC and Tomás Podstawski's call-up by Portugal for the 2014 UEFA European U19 Championship in July, Rúben Neves seized his chance to impress new coach Julen Lopetegui during pre-season.
It does not come much better than marking your debut with a goal. Ricardo Quaresma played a short corner to Alex Sandro, Marítimo were unable to clear the Brazilian's cross from the left and an unmarked Rúben Neves found the bottom-left corner with a powerful angled effort. He was substituted after 74 minutes to a standing ovation from the packed Estádio do Dragão and was named man of the match.
After surging from the U17 side to the senior squad in just four months, Rúben Neves continued his rapid rise with a debut goal just 11 minutes into the 2014/15 season.
What he says
"It was a dream debut, not only for my performance and goal but also for the win, which was the most important thing. I'm going to keep this award forever and I hope it will be the beginning of a very successful career."
What they say
"He's prepared and he showed it. It is very good for him, having scored on his debut. He played very well. I am very, very relaxed about Rúben because he himself is calm."
Porto coach Lopetegui after the game.
"Rúben is just a 17-year-old kid but has a strong mindset. We are delighted."
Lopetegui after a friendly match against AS Saint-Étienne in July 2014.
"I'm glad to see a young player showing so much maturity and quality, let alone scoring the first goal of a championship. I wish him every success."
Porto and Portugal former goalkeeper Vítor Baía in newspaper O Jogo.
"Portugal's captain and the man who made things tick in midfield for Emilio Peixe's eye-catching side. Constantly prompting attacks and keeping the ball circulating for A Selecção das Quinas, the Porto player was not afraid to go for goal himself, as was evident with his thumping long-range effort that smacked the bar against England in the semi-finals."
UEFA.com reporters after choosing Rúben Neves as one of ten players to watch following the U17 finals in Malta.
Rúben Neves impresses with his passing precision, vision and astute positioning, showing a great maturity for his very young age. Although commonly employed as a defensive midfielder, he shows no fear in getting forward, leading attacks and trying to score with his powerful right foot.
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